ECO responds to Commission consultation on bisphenols in food contact materials

8 March 2024

In March, the European Cancer Organisation (ECO) provided a formal response to a European Commission consultation concerning regulatory restrictions on bisphenols in food contact materials. 

Bisphenol A (BPA), a carbon-based synthetic compound, exhibits hormone-like properties and is ubiquitous in the environment and in human tissues due to its widespread use and biological accumulation. BPA can mimic estrogen to interact with estrogen receptors α and β, leading to changes in cell proliferation, apoptosis, or migration. This can contribute to cancer development and progression. In vitro and in vivo studies have revealed links between BPA exposure and hormone-related cancers, including breast, prostate, and ovarian cancers, and endometrial carcinoma. In addition,  BPA has been linked to gastrointestinal, liver, lung, and skin cancers. 

The European Commission published a consultation for stakeholder views on its  proposals to impose a ban on the use of BPA in food contact materials (FCMs), including plastic and coated packaging. This follows the publication of the European Food Safety Authority’s opinion, which indicates a concern for human health. The measure will also address the use of other bisphenols in FCMs to avoid replacing BPA with other harmful substances and set out derogations and transitional periods that may apply to businesses. 

In consultation with its member societies, and Patient Advisory Committee, ECO reviewed the consultation and raised a number of key points, including: 

  • Expressing formal support for the Commission's proposals for further regulatory action on BPA, noting the agreement by Food Safety Authorities,  representatives of the drinking water and waste water industries, and others, all acknowledging the links between BPA and cancer 
  • Making a recommendation that the Commission enhance their referencing to the available evidence concerning BPA's linkages with cancer
  • Raising the need for further research support on the topic of endocrine-disruptors and their linkage to cancer. This could be achieved through mechanisms such as the Horizon Europe research programme and other relevant support mechanisms

ECO’s full response to the consultation is available here.